Ignore the Broadcasters! A Key Difference Between Twitter and TV

By Alexis C. Madrigal

Mathew Ingram had a great post yesterday on "the rise of the new information gatekeepers" in which he looked at how technology companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple increasingly control access to news and culture.

This morning, Steve Lawson, a bassist from Birmingham in the UK sent out a string of tweets that I think highlight a key difference between the old information ecosystem and the new one. Everyone can use the new system's infrastructure, regardless of their 'official' capacity. Here's what Lawson had to say:

The info gatekeepers thing is interesting, but the parameters are WAY more porous than before. TV/Magazines weren't "gameable". The web is. Cable access channels aside (Wayne's World!), you can't 'use' broadcast TV for your own ends & ignore the broadcasters. Here, there's choice. ...so while twitter controls trending algorithms, promoted tweets etc, we can still build sub-networks on the same infrastructure. So I can use twitter/G+/FB to spread indie music, without the need of their 'support' as such. We can reshare it, and build our own network. Same for news, activism, art, culture...there's still a curated 'bought' mainstream. But the alternative is on the same platform. That's new.

And propaganda thrust into a community looks way more dodgy than propaganda in a paid ad on TV. We're more sensitive to it here. The big worry? the implications of ad-funding as THE model. If all our actions are made possible by that, we're complicit or parasitic... We either 'pay our way' by buying the shit that gets advertised, or we are happy to let someone else's untrammeled consumption pay for us.

What I think this analysis shows is that a simple recognition that there information gatekeeping remains does not mean that the new way of doing things is equivalent to the old way of doing things. The details of the system matter.

There's also something of a nerdy alternative media rallying cry in there: Ignore the broadcasters! Build the sub-network!

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/12/ignore-the-broadcasters-a-key-difference-between-twitter-and-tv/249399/